My very first job seemed perfect at first: I had the right degree and a good postgraduate qualification. But within six months I started to feel drained and de-motivated. I found that, although I did the job well, I preferred doing almost anything else. Since then I have met many others who have had the same experience.
When I came across Positive Psychology, I found an explanation for that experience and how to avoid it in future. Positive Psychology is a powerful combination of good research and applicability. It focuses on people when they are at their best and looks at how we can all learn from that.
I also trained in coaching, a tool which is now used in more than 80% of UK organisations by external ‘executive coaches’ and increasingly by line managers, peers and professionals of all kinds.
There is an obvious fit for me using positive psychology in my coaching – here are some examples:
Working with strengths
Strengths are not just things we’re good at: using a true strength gives us a sense of flow and energy – which explains my lack of energy in that job. Coaching is probably the very best way to help a person identify their strengths and to use them more consistently.
The Growth Mindset
This is about taking ownership and believing that we can grow and develop in almost any direction if we choose to and if we put the work in. One of the most common benefits of coaching is that it helps the coachee to believe in themselves, set goals and marshal their personal resources.
Researchers have found that human beings need to experience more positive emotion than negative emotion if they are to flourish. When they do this they become better thinkers and decision-makers and they bounce back more quickly from setbacks and disappointment. Coaching can be a powerful way to help people tap in to the positive things in their lives.
There are many more themes within positive psychology and of course their use is not limited to coaching. Managers and leaders in many organisations are beginning to pay attention to their importance in the working life of their employees, colleagues and teams.
To finish, here is a short positive coaching exercise you can do by yourself or with a friend or colleague.
Think of something that people have always told you you’re good at. Maybe you have rather discounted what they said or felt slightly embarrassed by their praise. This is a typical sign of a true strength – quite often we do not pay attention to them because they come naturally to us and we therefore think that anyone can do the same. So instead, take hold of this strength and actively identify three ways in which you could use it more over the coming week. The research tells us that not only will you feel better but that your work performance will probably have improved.
If you’d like to talk more about any of these ideas, contact me.